‘Playing with fire…’: China’s cryptic warning to US for supporting Taiwan in Moscow conference
During a security conference in Russia, Chinese Defense Minister Li Shangfu on Tuesday sent out a cryptic warning to the United States for ‘playing with fire’ when it comes to Taiwan, amid heightened tensions between Washington and Beijing.
Li had departed for a six-day visit to Russia and Belarus in a show of support despite objection from Western countries over the ongoing war in Ukraine. This is Li’s second visit to Moscow after the Russian invasion of Ukraine last year.
At the 11th Moscow Conference on International Security, Li said that “attempts to use Taiwan” for containing China will result in inevitable failure, CNN reported. This comes as the US continues to provide military and economic assistance to the self-governed island in hopes of deterring an attack from Beijing.
Li’s statement is the latest of many given by Chinese officials who have repeatedly slammed American interactions with Taipei, with whom the US does not have formal diplomatic ties. China considers Taiwan as a part of its territory and has vowed to take control of it by force if necessary.
Li’s statements also come at a time when Taiwanese Vice President William Lai made planned stopovers in the US during an official visit to Ukraine, where the latter also said that the self-governed island will ‘never back down’ in the face of Chinese aggression. Lai was labelled as a ‘troublemaker’ by Chinese authorities.
“No matter how great the threat of authoritarianism is to Taiwan, we absolutely will not be scared nor cower, we will uphold the values of democracy and freedom,” said Lai in New York.
Though both areas have been controlled separately for more than 70 years, the CCP continues to claim sovereignty over the island nation. China has, on several occasions, stepped up military exercises around the self-ruled country, which it considers its territory under the ‘One China policy’.
China on Russia-Ukraine war
China has repeated said that it is a ‘neutral party’ in the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war and has advocated for a peaceful resolution, including at the recently concluded summit in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. However, President Xi has accused the US of provoking and trying to isolate Russia and has backed Moscow in American condemnation of the war.
On Tuesday, Li said that China’s military was “a firm force in maintaining world peace” and that Chinese President Xi Jinping was aiming to achieve stability in global security in a “world of chaos”.
“We are willing to work with other militaries to strengthen mutual trust in military security strategies and practical cooperation in various specialized fields,” he added. Russian local media cited Li saying that military relations between China and Russia, which have only grown closer during the war, have not targeted any third party.